How Business Leaders can Encourage Workplace Wellness
As a business leader, you have a responsibility to promote happiness and wellbeing in the workplace. Your organisation has a duty of care to your employees, but that’s not the only reason that workplace wellness is important…
Happy, healthy employees are productive employees who will go above and beyond to serve your business bottom line. Wellness-centric working environments tend to have higher employee engagement, lower rates of absence, and consistent, high output.
Unfortunately, promoting employee wellness is not as straightforward as you might think. These days, it’s going to take more than Free Coffee Friday and quarterly office parties with snacks, dips and funny hats.
If you’re not sure where to begin - panic not. As usual, the Growth Tribe team have got your back. This article covers some easy, effective strategies you can employ to promote wellbeing among your workforce.
Advocate for healthy habits
This is all about gently encouraging (not forcing) your staff to make healthy choices. The trick is empowering people to make better decisions, without taking away their autonomy by pressuring them into it or removing other options.
Some examples of the sort of healthy choice we’re referring to:
- Choosing the healthier options in the cafeteria
- Spending breaks being physically active, rather than lounging in the break room
- Cycling or walking to work rather than driving
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle outside work
As far as office eating goes, we recommend making healthy options available and increasing appeal by offering discounts and freebies. Don’t take pizza, burgers and fried foods away altogether, or you’re likely to set off a full-scale mutiny.
Budget allowing, consider offering your staff discounted gym membership or incentives for leaving their vehicles at home. Finally, check out your break rooms and think about what you could do to encourage employees to make the most of their downtime - what kind of free games and activities could you introduce? Okay, so dodgeball is probably out of the question, but games like pool, snooker or air hockey could work well.
Set an example
This is something that the world’s best corporate leaders do day in, and day out. Leading by example is one of the most powerful strategies you can employ when promoting employee wellness.
Encouraging people with words alone (“Hey, eat the carrot sticks.”) is far less effective than actually living out the message you’re trying to spread (“Mmmmm, these carrot sticks are AWESOME.”) Okay, so we’re being a tiny bit reductive here, but you get the point. Live well and let others see it, and they will start to follow suit.
Here are some other simple wellness strategies you can use to set an example to your staff:
- Getting up to stretch your legs regularly
- Adopting proper posture at your desk
- Leave your own car at home, and walk, cycle, or scoot to the office!
- Choose the healthy options in the cafeteria
Encourage time out
Let your employees know that relaxation is NOT a dirty word. In the not too distant past, the corporate status quo was one of “vacation shaming”, and employees were made to feel guilty or uncommitted simply for using their break times and holiday allowance.
These archaic attitudes were borne from a gross misunderstanding of how motivation and productivity work. We now know that sufficient relaxation time is not only acceptable but essential to employee wellbeing, and engagement in turn.
Make sure that holiday days are being tracked, and that employees are encouraged to use their available days - especially if they cannot be carried over. You should also keep an eye on any eager-to-please staff members who have developed that nasty little habit of working through their break or lunch, and make sure they take the downtime they need.
Keep your door open
Make sure your team members know that your door is always open to them (metaphorically speaking). If they have concerns about anything work-related (other employees, current projects, their future within the company, their performance, upcoming changes, lack of pizza in the cafeteria… etc), you need to know about it, like, yesterday.
As we all know from our personal lives, sometimes talking about a problem is all it takes to restore a sense of peace and wellbeing, so your staff must be given the chance to vent. More importantly, they must be given the appropriate channels via which to express their concerns to you, or another manager. Otherwise, they may complain to other members of staff and the discontent will start to spread like wildfire.
When you’re aware of issues, you can resolve them. Try to include the employee in this resolution strategy, as this will re-engage them and make them feel valued.
Empower your staff
This is arguably the most important point on our list, yet the most overlooked. People are more likely to take whatever steps necessary to maintain their own well-being if they feel like they’re in control of their environment.
It’s important to show your employees that they are the ones responsible for their happiness, wellness, and workplace success. A great way to do this is to involve them in your workplace wellness strategies. Hold regular meetings where people can raise suggestions and comment on the effectiveness of existing wellness strategies. This sense of shared ownership and responsibility will encourage greater engagement with wellbeing strategies while making sure you devise tactics that actually work for your staff